178. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Schlesinger to President Nixon1

    • Intelligence Précis

Saudi Arabia

The Saudis are raising the prospect of a cutoff in oil supplies in an effort to induce the US to push harder for a peace settlement in the Middle East. Rising Saudi concern over Middle East tensions is evident in Oil Minister Yamani’s statements this week, as well as in other reporting.2

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A [less than 1 line not declassified] source reports that King Faysal was recently impressed with the “logic” of Sadat’s argument that Egypt must initiate hostilities with Israel.

  • Sadat told a Faysal emissary in late March that fighting must begin “sometime within the next few months.”
  • Faysal responded, the source reports, with a message of firm support for Egypt. The King explained to his aides that he now feels—for the first time—war is necessary to “restore Arab self-respect.”
  • Faysal went on to say that he feels more and more that, if war comes, he will be unable to resist Arab demands for joint action against US oil interests.

This implied threat does not mean the Saudis have a contingency plan to cut off the petroleum flow. Nonetheless, it shows the strain that Middle East tensions are imposing on Faysal’s long-time policy of cooperation with the US and the acute need Faysal feels for some movement toward an Arab-Israeli settlement.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 51, Presidential Daily Briefings. Eyes Only For the President.
  2. A reference to Yamani’s meetings with administration officials. See Document 176. He also gave an interview to The Washington Post on April 18, which was reported the next day; see “Saudis Tie Oil to U.S. Policy on Israel, The Washington Post, April 19, 1973, p. A1.